More store closures around the corner

BETTER than expected trading in Ipswich over the Christmas period is unlikely to prevent a raft of store closures as the looming recession takes hold, it emerged today.

BETTER than expected trading in Ipswich over the Christmas period is unlikely to prevent a raft of store closures as the looming recession takes hold, it emerged today.

A number of shops in Ipswich have closed in recent weeks including Woolworths in Carr Street, Harvey World Travel in the Buttermarket, photography studio Olan Mills in St Matthews Street and Adams Kids in Westgate Street.

On top of this the future of Zavvi in Westgate Street is in doubt after the firm went into administration and specialist stores selling Christmas goods are empty again following the festive period.

Paul Clement, director of Ipswich Central, said trading over the Christmas period was generally better than expected but revealed the next three months will be extremely tough for traders.


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He added that, despite a number being in prime positions, it is unlikely the empty stores will be reoccupied any time soon but believes Ipswich could position itself as an exciting location for expansion when retail confidence returns.

“The general feeling is that although it (Christmas trading) was bad, it was not as bad as it could have been,” he said.

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“We are starting to see some retailers failing through the situation they find themselves in and that's going to be the fallout of the downturn.

“We are going to see names we have known for many years disappearing on all of our high streets.

“Are there going to be less retailers trading on any high street in the next three to six months? The answer is yes, there are.

“There is no doubt some retailers are going to disappear.

“It is not an Ipswich issue - it's a national issue. It is a very tough environment.”

Despite the bleak outlook, Mr Clement said he believes the downturn may be shorter than many analysts predict, with consumer confidence potentially picking up by the end of the year.

“There are two sides to a recession - when you are going in and when you are coming out,” he said.

“There is no question the economic situation this month is worse than it was last month but my gut feeling is we will hit bottom in 2009 not 2010.

“What happens is that when businesses see we are at the bottom and things are not going to get any worse, those retailers with cash will look at ways of expanding.

“There is an opportunity for places like Ipswich to position themselves so as when those retailers with cash are looking to expand again it puts itself at the forefront of their thinking.”

Are you a retailer in Ipswich? What are your views on the current situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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